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Let’s Make Things Worse

March 31, 2020

First thing: The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science is holding more online workshops (I hate saying “webinar”): Today at 8pm it’s “The Evolution of the Coronavirus” and April 2 it’s “The Evolution of the Human Brain.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says coronavirus misinformation is the “common enemy” of all nations. ABC reports:

To overcome the virus, he said, “we need to urgently promote facts and science” and “promote hope and solidarity over despair and division.”

Guterres said the U.N. is launching a COVID-19 Communications for Solidarity Initiative to rapidly inform people about the facts and science, “and promote and inspire acts of humanity around the world.”

Yep, we’re trying to help with that stuff too.

I take it Facebook agrees with Guterres, since they cut off and deleted Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s livestream for spreading misinformation about the virus:

“We remove content on Facebook and Instagram that violates our Community Standards, which do not allow misinformation that could lead to physical harm” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. Facebook specifically prohibits false claims regarding cure, treatments, the availability of essential services and the location or intensity of contagion outbreaks.

Google finally finally finally takes Alex Jones’ InfoWars app off the Play Store. Newsweek:

Just as on his radio show and other online platforms, Jones published false information via the InfoWars app, which had more than a 100,000 downloads at the time of its removal from the app store.

In addition to broadcasting The Alex Jones Show live, products were also sold through the app, including supplements and protein powders. The New York Times found that alternative medicine supplements were a lucrative business for Jones, generating more than $15 million in sales for InfoWars in 2014.

His videos included ads for supplements which Jones claimed could protect buyers from the coronavirus.

Oh good lord. There are people who say they are “medical intuitives,” and one lady who says she can “create the perfect DNA to protect you from coronavirus.” STOP.

Oh hey, just so you know, the coronavirus wasn’t made in a lab.

I have no idea who Kitboga is, but he’s doing a good service by streaming over Twitch his exploits to troll and expose people selling scam coronavirus treatments. So he has my thanks.

Sucking down a load of vitamin C won’t keep the coronavirus away or cure it or whatever.

Dean Koontz didn’t predict the coronavirus.

This is like something out of a sketch comedy show. To address the pandemic, Trump trots out the CEO of a company that makes pillows, boasting of this guy’s willingness to make face masks (which the president says nurses are stealing), and then the guy, who sort of looks like Jack Black in Bernie, starts going on and on about how Trump is bringing God back. I can’t even:

God gave us grace on Nov. 8, 2016, to change the course we were on. God had been taken out of our schools and lives, a nation had turned its back on god. I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the word, read our Bibles and spend time with our families.

Trump’s packed-church-by-Easter thing has come and gone, what with all the infections and deaths, but the whole “cure is worse than the disease” and “sacrifice old people for the economy” ethos is an active position among conservatives. And I’m glad we made the perpetually-aggrieved Bill Donohue mad.

Jared Yates Sexton at The New Republic explains why the right is embracing the plague:

Those who have benefited from this fusion [of capitalism and nationalism] are now, in the face of a plague, rising in its defense. They won’t be afraid to sacrifice lives or push society off the ledge. They will support Trump’s policy of reopening the economy without fearing the warnings of doctors or scientists. They’ll watch while millions die from the pandemic, and they’ll chalk it up to God’s will. And they’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time. …

… Even now, as the coronavirus pandemic is growing, strange memes and messages are being posted in white-identity, evangelical circles, the roots of which can be traced back to Falwell and the Confederate Christian ideology. They see Trump as standing firm against dark, evil forces. They see the pandemic as a plague from God. A sign of the End Times.

And like other apocalyptic cults, these true believers are not afraid of mass death.

Tara Isabella Burton says this proves that capitalism is America’s civil religion (and I’d say literal religion):

When the language of buying and selling, product and profit, so dominates our discourse about our identities, our society and our metaphysics, capitalism becomes indistinguishable from religious faith. Once we made human sacrifices to appease the gods; now, we’re told, we must do the same to appease the markets.

Alan Jacobs must now explain to fellow Christians why death is bad with a post literally titled “why death is bad: a primer for Christians”:

It has come to my attention that some among you don’t believe death is a very bad thing; or at least that there are many things more precious than life. This is in fact not true; life is the greatest of the gifts of God, because it is the one that makes every other gift possible. This is why we often honor those who sacrifice their own lives in order to save others. They give up something of unique value to themselves; we think of this as the greatest of sacrifices for a reason. …

… when people do give up their lives in such praiseworthy ways, why do they do so? They always do it for life: they give up their own so that others may have life and have it more abundantly.

C. Christopher Smith is okay with seeing how the coronavirus era shapes church attendance:

I challenge churches to take a wee bit of time to reflect together on questions like these:

What is the church? A building? A particular gathering? A community?

What is worship? What really matters in a worship service? And given the limits forced on us by the pandemic, which technological tools can best help us embody our identity and mission?

Tony Perkins, who said concern about the virus was irrational, now has a daughter volunteering at a hospital, so now he says, “It’s real, it’s serious, and so we’ve got to do our part … follow the guidelines.” Welcome to this side of reality, Tony.

Liberty University was open for business because Jerry Falwell Jr. said it MUST BE SO, and a bunch of students got sick. Now the governor of Virginia, his hand more or less forced, is ordering all colleges and universities to stop in-person classes.

Michael Gerson considers what the hell is going on in Falwell’s head:

There is an old Bob Dylan song titled, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” Who is Falwell serving instead of students, parents, staff, his board and the Lynchburg, Va., community? Let’s see. Falwell has contempt for the weak. He is dismissive of experts. He traffics in conspiracy theories. He attacks his critics with infantile putdowns and demeaning names. And he refuses to admit when he is dangerously wrong.

Who does that sound like? It is on the tip of my tongue. …

… He blunders toward blasphemy by insisting that he is being persecuted for his religious beliefs. “We’re conservative,” he claims, “we’re Christian, and therefore we’re being attacked.” But any path that ignores the truth and endangers the vulnerable can’t be called the way of Christ. No, there is only one explanation: Falwell has laid down the cross to follow Trump.

I have an idea! Let’s make things worse!

In Tampa, Florida on Sunday, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested for holding not one but TWO church services, tightly packing people shoulder-to-shoulder for Jesus, in defiance of orders to, you know, NOT DO THAT. The far-right Liberty Counsel reliably came to his legal defense, and we came to Twitter to point and make “tsk tsk” noises:

He packed people into a church—twice—during a stay-at-home order. Sheriff: “His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk, and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week, in danger.”

Soooo we’d say this was a good call.


“Howard-Browne refused to heed the warnings and held 2 large services on Sunday. A live stream on the church’s Facebook page showed congregants gathered …many standing shoulder to shoulder while the church band played.”

See, you can’t do that right now.

Churches in New York and Texas are suing over stay-at-home orders, because religious liberty!

This group called Samaritan’s Purse has set up a tent hospital in Central Park to help with the pandemic! OH WAIT. Gothamist reports:

The mayor did not mention that the group is led by Franklin Graham, a notorious anti-LGBTQ and Islamophobic preacher with a track record of using humanitarian missions to proselytize an evangelical agenda.

Graham, the son of prominent minister Billy Graham, has specifically sought to recruit Christian medical staff to the Central Park facility. According to the group’s website, all volunteers, including health care workers, should read and adhere to a statement of faith, in which marriage is defined as “exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female” and the unrighteous are sentenced to “everlasting punishment in hell.”

Rush Limbaugh says government health experts are the “Deep State”!

Chiropractors are telling people they can boost your immunity to COVID-19! Even though they can’t!

Here come the must-read, hastily-produced books on Amazon that will tell you how to cure the disease and/or explain why it’s a conspiracy!

Here’s something to look forward to: Texas Monthly reports on how anti-vaxxers are getting set to oppose a coronavirus vaccine before it even exists!

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.